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Poster: movie boi Date: Apr 9, 2004 5:51am
Forum: feature_films Subject: reasonable steps

You asked, but I don’t think you are going to like my answer.

I think at a bare minimum the Internet Archive has to uphold the Public Domain Dedication for any materials it distributes and refers to as public domain. The Dedication states, "A certifier has taken reasonable steps to verify the copyright status of this work." I think anyone who spends more than half a minute at the aforementioned sites would conclude that checking the copyright status of underlying works is a very reasonable step.

In concrete terms, I think the immediate actions that should occur are
1) The Archive should stop distributing all works cited as being in the public domain with the exception of those published prior to 1923 or published by the US government.

2) The Archive should draft various documents detailing what it means for movies to be in the public domain, and the "reasonable" steps they take to ensure that movies cited as being in the public domain actually are. Again, I think Project Gutenberg and Online Books do a good job of this for books.

3) The Archive should reallocate resources away from digitization and bandwidth and towards affirming the public domain status of its materials. From what I understand, you do not need to hire specialists for this but inside staff can be trained. Then once reasonable steps have been taken, movies can be re-released on an individual basis as public domain.

For longer term actions
1) The Archive should work with allied interests to establish the copyright status of various materials. It seems kind of silly for people to re-examine the copyright of the same movie over and over again. If enough resources could be marshaled perhaps there might even be the ability to get declaratory judgments on individual works. TV broadcasters might help.

2) The Archive should pursue legal and lobbying activities. I don’t understand prioritizing the issues in Kahle v. Ashcroft. Seems there is more low hanging fruit such as the issue of pre-existing works controlling movies. If someone purchases or inherits and movie copyright, they do not need to seek the permission of the copyright holders of pre-existing works to exhibit their movie. Why is the public at such a disadvantage?

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Poster: A/V Geek Skip Date: Apr 9, 2004 7:23am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: reasonable steps

Personally, I think that you've made some reasonable requests regarding IA's statement about public domain materials and how they determine status.

I don't totally agree with everything you've outlined, but ultimately the IA will have to decide how they will dedicate their resources and their stance on determining public domain status. I've learned through my dealings with copyright researchers, that even they cannot offer 100% with feature films.

Would a special designation/declaimer help?

"This film is believed to be in public domain. Either the film was released into public domain or the copyright was not renewed. While the film is considered to be in public domain, underlying copyrights (such as the background music, artwork displayed, or original works that the film is based on) may still be valid. If you wish to use this film in your own works, you may wish to consult a copyright researcher for a more exhaustive investigation."

To clarify, the Film Superlist books I referred to are used by the entertainment industry to determine the public domain status of the films. These books also provide some underlying copyright research, but it is not complete.

For the record, "Beware Spooks!" was mistakenly uploaded. It was human error (mine). The film's copyright was renewed, I noted it and failed to remove it from the hard drive I sent to IA.


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Poster: movie boi Date: Apr 10, 2004 12:33am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: reasonable steps

Certainly better disclaimers would be helpful. In fact, I would add that the Archives current disclaimers about using these works outside the US are inadequate. A quick sampling of the forums shows that people outside the US believe these movies are free to use in their own countries (which may or may not be true).

A better disclaimer may work for inclusions such music and artwork, but I think it is an inadequate strategy for pre-existing works.

Reading the online piece about exhibitng "It's a Wonderful Life" makes abundantly clear that determining the copyright status on the underlying story material is essential in any determination of a movie's copyright status.

I did a quick Internet search and there are a number of statements to the effect that the "Film Superlist" is only a starting point. In particular from Library of Congres (, "There are books that purport to list films in the public domain, but they should be used only as a preliminary source of information."

One thing I find troubling is that you mentioned again that people need to be weary if they reuse this material in their own works. While this is undoubtedly true, it implies that there are no legal issues with downloading and watching the movies. If the films are protected by copyright, making an unauthorized copy on a personal computer is a violation in of itself.

Thanks again for the clarification on "Beware Spooks!."

To clarify this and my other posts, I do not make the rules. I do not even fully understand them (I am not a copyright lawyer). I certainly do not agree with them. I just like watching old movies and wonder if it is all right to watch the ones on the Archive.

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Poster: cashel Date: Apr 9, 2004 6:10am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: reasonable steps

So movie boi, says that a movie should be 84 years of age or older (ANCIENT)before it is free for distribution. Who is movioe boi ? ( a little kmowledge might help in understanding his beliefs_

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Poster: movie boi Date: Apr 9, 2004 6:19am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: reasonable steps

Excuse me - that is hardly what I wrote. Further, I do not appreciate the personal attack.

I think a movie has to be in the public domain before it is free to distribute. This includes many films from as late as the 1980's and all US government films.

I merely think the Internet Archive has done a fairly poor job of confirming the public domain status of films they claim to be in the public domain.

jack2 if you do not care about legality and just want free access to new films (including ones still in the theater), go grab some filesharing software and download to your hearts content.

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Poster: cashel Date: Apr 9, 2004 6:44am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: reasonable steps

I did NOT make a personal attack( a slur for which you did not give details ). Quoting your own words"the archive should stop distributing all works cited as being in the public domain other than published prior to 1923..."From this ,I made the assumption regarding access to only ANCIENT FILMS. Further I regard your remarks about me as INSULTING e.g "jack if you do not care about legality and just want access to new films" We both have strong beliefs. I merely stated in my last post post, that I would like to know some bio details and if asked, I would also give info about myself